1. Asparagus is rich in potassium, which lowers blood pressure. In fact, researchers have found that potassium citrate, which asparagus contains, is as effective as a potassium supplement. Asparagus is also a natural diuretic that rids the body of excess fluid, thereby reducing blood pressure.
2. Hawthorn tea helps the heart function more efficiently and contains a beneficial flavonoid called proanthocyanidin, which causes the blood vessels to relax. I tell my patients to drink a cup daily.
3. Oatmeal’s cholesterol-lowering benefits were shown in an 18-week controlled study in which researchers divided 88 people into two groups. One group ate oatmeal and the other group was given a whole-grain, oat-based cereal. Twice the number of people in the group that ate oatmeal were able to stop taking blood pressure medication, or cut their dosage in half. To get the most benefit, eat cooked, organic nongenetically modified oatmeal, not the instant kind.
4. Blueberries have long been known to be packed with antioxidants that ward off the cellular damage that comes along with aging. But their blood pressure-lowering capabilities are often overlooked. It’s the natural blue pigment, anthocyanin, that reduces high blood pressure. Blueberries also contain a form of pterostilbene, which is a relative of resveratrol, the beneficial compound found in wine. This chemical is also particularly helpful in blood pressure control, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions on High Blood Pressure Research conference, which was held last fall in Washington, D.C.
5. Nonfat yogurt can also reduce blood pressure. In another study presented at that AHA conference, researchers tracked more than 14,000 adults without high blood pressure for 14 years and found those who ate nonfat yogurt were 31 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure.
6. Sunflower seeds have tremendous health benefits (like all nuts and seeds). But if it’s blood pressure lowering you’re after, zero in on these. In addition to being high in vitamin E, folic acid, protein, and fiber, sunflower seeds also contain blood pressure-lowering magnesium.
7. Beet juice contains nitrates, which are key to lowering blood pressure. You can reap the benefit if you drink one 16-ounce glass of beet juice daily. London-based researchers found that people who drank the beet juice reduced their blood pressure within an hour, and enjoyed the result well into the next day. If you don’t like beets or beet juice, celery, lettuce, spinach, and arugula are also nitrate-rich.
8. Potatoes often get a bad rap, but they can actually help lower blood pressure because they are rich in potassium and magnesium. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that 18 people who were overweight and had high blood pressure were able to reduce it by eating small, purple potatoes. The key is that you must bake, boil, or microwave them — never fry. And forgo the butter, bacon, and sour cream. Just add a touch of olive oil and fresh herbs such as parsley.
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